National Treasure (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">National Treasure</strong> (2004)

(In theaters, November 2004) Everyone loves a good secret, a good chase and a good mystery, so it’s no surprise if such a slick piece of escapist entertainment as National Treasure should tap into the same popular success as The Da Vinci Code. True, the Nicolas Cage / Jerry Bruckheimer combo has produced wonders in the past and this fourth collaboration is pure wall-to-wall fun. It had to happen sooner or later, mind you: a blockbuster tapping American history as a source of adventure and a thin pretext for chases and gunfights. That it works so well is less a testament to the appeal of early American history than to the professionalism of Jerry Bruckheimer’s formula. National Treasure moves at a fast clip, doesn’t waste time on needless material, uses arcane ideas at a prodigious rate (for a film) and disposes of them almost as quickly. Oh, many lines are lame, physics routinely ignored and the characters come straight out of central casting, but that simply reinforces the comfortable blockbuster feel of the whole thing. The only surprise is that the film wasn’t released in the summer. Hey, you can bitch and moan about this being a poor man’s Indiana Jones (and you’d be right), but National Treasure is such an oddball Hollywood creation that it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for an action picture that, at least, pays some lip service to the virtues of knowledge. (“I know something about history that you don’t know… Hold on one second, let me just take in this moment. This is cool. Is this how you feel all the time?”) Good enough for me, at least.

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